Muttongrass

(Poa fendleriana (Steud.) Vasey)




Synonyms
Eragrostis fendleriana Steud.
Description
A low-growing, pale-green bunchgrass, muttongrass usually has no rhizomes. The erect flowering stems are 1 to 2 feet tall, numerous and slender. When moisture and light are adequate, the plants form a dense sod. The smooth leaves, 2 to 7 inches long a nd up to 3/16 inch wide, are mostly basal and have a boat---shaped tip. The inflorescence of muttongrass is pyramid-shaped, 1 to 4 inches long, and open. The lowermost branches are slender, spreading, and usually five in a whorl. The individual florets ha ve lots of cobweb-like hairs at their base.
Distribution and habitat
Muttongrass is found in all our counties in meadows and canyons at up to 11,500 feet. It flowers from April to August.
General information
Muttongrass grows early in the spring and provides good forage for early grazing. This is usually considered to be the most valuable pasture grass in North America. Although not the most valuable grass in Arizona, it does provide large amounts of fora ge at higher altitudes in the forested areas of the state, particularly as summer sheep feed. It rates as excellent for cattle and horses and good for sheep. The foliage cures rather well, and rates as fair fall forage, though less palatable than during l ate spring and early summer. Bluegrass withstands long-continued, heavy grazing better than most grasses.